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My new flat has no doorbell – is the landlord required to install one?

I have recently moved into a new rented flat. It is an old industrial building which has been converted into four separate apartments, with mine on the ground floor.

There is one exit, the front door. This leads out into our private courtyard, where there is a gate with a key code to get out on to the street. 

As our front door is behind a locked gate, we were rather surprised to find there was no buzzer to alert us if we have visitors or mail. 

The only way for anyone to get our attention, it turns out, is for someone to knock on our bedroom windows, which face the street on the side of the building.  

We have already missed a number of important parcels and had to take time out of our days to go to the sorting office to collect them.

A renter is frustrated their landlord will not install a doorbell so they constantly miss deliveries

I was rather surprised to hear from the letting agents that the landlord was not responsible for providing us with a doorbell.

Is this true? Not having one seriously impinges on the quality of our lives at the property. 

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: It is certainly unusual that you have no doorbell. It is something you would assume any apartment would have – rented or otherwise.

As a result, delivery drivers have to knock on your bedroom window to alert you that they’re there. This is not only inconvenient, but also an invasion of privacy.

And if you’re not near the bedroom, you are unlikely to hear the delivery driver knock on your window.

Your upstairs neighbours will no doubt be missing even more parcels, as drivers will be unable to alert them in this way. 

Unfortunately, your letting agent says the landlord is not responsible for installing a doorbell, despite the fact it is relatively easy and inexpensive to do so. 

It would also make your – and your neighbours’ – lives much easier.

To find out what your rights are in this situation, This is Money asked industry experts about what you can do and whether you could install one yourself.

A spokesperson for non-profit advice service, Justice for Tenants, replies: There is no legal obligation for a landlord to provide either a doorbell or a postbox.

However, lack of a doorbell or means of getting post can be an indicator the property was not converted with the correct planning permissions. 

You can check the council’s online planning portal or contact its planning department to confirm this. 

From a practical perspective, the first step would be to put in writing to your landlord the ways that the lack of a doorbell and post box inconvenience you and to request that a letterbox and doorbell be provided.

If the landlord is unwilling to help, a practical solution could be a wireless doorbell attached to the gate, which you could install yourself. 

Or alternatively, a notice stuck to the gate with your phone number, to alert delivery drivers to call you so you can provide the code for them to enter, or go out and collect the package.

Not having a doorbell installed means residents are missing a number of important parcels

Not having a doorbell installed means residents are missing a number of important parcels

Timothy Douglas, policy and campaigns manager at Propertymark, replies: When it comes to flats, the freehold arrangement varies from property to property. 

In most cases, rented flats in a multi-occupied residential building will be owned by a landlord on a leasehold basis.

Therefore, there is likely to be an additional landlord or freeholder who has overall responsibility and ownership of the fabric of the building, such as the installation and maintenance of the locked gate with the keypad.

To help determine responsibility in this scenario, the tenant should ask the letting agent to find out who is the ultimate owner of the building and responsible for maintenance. This can also be obtained via the Land Registry website. 

You could also ask whether the freeholder has put in place a managing agent to manage the building and communal areas.

Once this has been established a request should be made to ask for an entry doorbell to the building.

If the freehold is jointly owned by the leaseholders through a share of freehold arrangement, then responsibility for the communal areas and the structure of the building – such as a decision whether to put an entry buzzer or intercom system – would be shared amongst the owners of the flats, including the tenant’s landlord.

Chun Wong, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, replies: Unfortunately there is no legal obligation on a landlord to provide a doorbell, as this is not related to security but convenience.

In hindsight, it would have been useful to check that the property had a doorbell prior to taking the let – and if not, to ask the landlord or agent to install one prior to signing the contract. 

It is also worth checking the tenancy agreement to see if there are any relevant obligations.

The best course of action is always to try and resolve this amicably with the landlord or agent by asking if they would be prepared to install one, which generally is not very costly.

Alternatively ask for permission to install your own. However, you will usually be required to return the property back to the landlord at the end of the tenancy in the same state as you originally took it, so ensure it can be removed without any damage.